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Seth Martin
 Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:00:08 -0500 last edited: Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:02:48 -0500  
Once more, with passion: Fingerprints suck as passwords

Biometric data is identity (public), never authentication (secret). You leave a copy of your fingerprints literally on everything you touch.


#Privacy #Security #Passwords #Cybersecurity #Biometrics @Gadget Gurus+ @LibertyPod+
prep
 Sat, 22 Apr 2017 14:58:30 -0500 
But (!) fingerprints work well in allowing security agencies to track you around.

I believe That is the reason for the push for bio-metrics and fingerprint scanners, in particular.

I have doubt in most security things; originating from Facebook, Apple, Google or Microsoft.
Seth Martin
 Wed, 05 Apr 2017 10:31:25 -0500 
Techdirt.Techdirt. wrote the following post 2 months ago

AT&T, Comcast & Verizon Pretend They Didn't Just Pay Congress To Sell You Out On Privacy

Large ISPs like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast spent a significant part of Friday trying to convince the press and public that they didn't just screw consumers over on privacy (if you've been napping: they did). With the vote on killing FCC broadband privacy protections barely in the books, ISP lobbyists and lawyers penned a number of editorials and blog posts breathlessly professing their tireless dedication to privacy, and insisting that worries about the rules' repeal are little more than "misinformation."

All of these posts, in lock step, tried to effectively make three key arguments: that the FTC will rush in to protect consumers in the wake of the FCC rules being repealed (not happening), ISPs don't really collect much data on you anyway (patently untrue), and that ISPs' lengthy, existing privacy policies and history of consumer respect mean consumers have nothing to worry about (feel free to pause here and laugh).

For more than a decade, large ISPs have used deep-packet inspection, search engine redirection and clickstream data collection to build detailed user profiles, and their longstanding refusal to candidly talk about many of these programs should make their actual dedication to user privacy abundantly clear. Yet over at Comcast, Deputy General Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer Gerard Lewis spent some time complaining that consumer privacy concerns are little more than "misleading talk" and "misinformation and inaccurate statements":

"There has been a lot of misleading talk about how the congressional action this week to overturn the regulatory overreach of the prior FCC will now permit us to sell sensitive customer data without customers’ knowledge or consent. This is just not true. In fact, we have committed not to share our customers’ sensitive information (such as banking, children’s, and health information), unless we first obtain their affirmative, opt-in consent."

So one, the "commitment" Comcast links to in this paragraph is little more than a cross-industry, toothless and voluntary self-regulatory regime that means just a fraction more than nothing at all. And while Comcast insists it doesn't sell its broadband customers' "individual web browsing history" (yet), they do still collect an ocean of other data for use in targeted ads, and there's really little stopping them from using your browsing history in this same way down the road -- it may not be "selling" your data, but it is using it to let advertisers target you. Comcast proceeds to say it's updating its privacy policy in the wake of the changes -- as if such an action (since these policies are drafted entirely to protect the ISP, not the consumer) means anything at all.

Like Comcast, Verizon's blog post on the subject amusingly acts as if the company's privacy policy actually protects you, not Verizon:

"Verizon is fully committed to the privacy of our customers. We value the trust our customers have in us so protecting the privacy of customer information is a core priority for us. Verizon’s privacy policy clearly lays out what we do and don’t do as well as the choices customers can make."

Feel better? That's the same company, we'll note, that was caught covertly modifying user data packets to track users around the internet regardless of any other data collected. That program was in place for two years before security researchers even noticed it existed. It took another six months of public shaming before the company even provided the option for consumers to opt out. Verizon's own recent history makes it clear its respect for consumer privacy is skin deep. And again, there's nothing really stopping Verizon from expanding this data collection and sales down the road, and burying it on page 117 of its privacy policy.

AT&T was a bit more verbose in a post over at the AT&T policy blog, where again it trots out this idea that existing FTC oversight is somehow good enough:

"The reality is that the FCC’s new broadband privacy rules had not yet even taken effect. And no one is saying there shouldn’t be any rules. Supporters of this action all agree that the rescinded FCC rules should be replaced by a return to the long-standing Federal Trade Commission approach. But in today’s overheated political dialogue, it is not surprising that some folks are ignoring the facts."

So again, the FTC doesn't really have much authority over broadband, and AT&T forgets to mention that its lawyers have found ways to wiggle around what little authority the agency does have via common carrier exemptions. And while AT&T insists that "no one is saying there shouldn't be any rules," its lobbyists are working tirelessly to accomplish precisely that by gutting both FTC and FCC oversight of the telecom sector. Not partially. Entirely. Title II, net neutrality, privacy -- AT&T wants it all gone. Its pretense to the contrary is laughable.

Like the other two providers, AT&T trots out this idea that the FCC's rules weren't fair because they didn't also apply to "edge" companies like Facebook or Google (which actually are more fully regulated by the FTC). That's a flimsy point also pushed by an AT&T and US Telecom Op/Ed over at Axios, where the lobbying group's CEO Jonathan Spalter tries to argue that consumers shouldn't worry about ISPs, because their data is also being hoovered up further down the supply chain:

"Your browser history is already being aggregated and sold to advertising networks—by virtually every site you visit on the internet. Consumers' browsing history is bought and sold across massive online advertising networks every day. This is the reason so many popular online destinations and services are "free." And, it's why the ads you see on your favorite sites—large and small—always seem so relevant to what you've recently been shopping for online. Of note, internet service providers are relative bit players in the $83 billion digital ad market, which made singling them out for heavier regulations so suspect."

Again, this quite intentionally ignores the fact that whereas you can choose to not use Facebook or Gmail, a lack of competition means you're stuck with your broadband provider. As such, arguing that "everybody else is busy collecting your data" isn't much of an argument, especially when "everybody else" is having their behaviors checked by competitive pressure to offer a better product. As well-respected security expert Bruce Schneier points out in a blog post, these companies desperately want you to ignore this one, central, undeniable truth:

"When markets work well, different companies compete on price and features, and society collectively rewards better products by purchasing them. This mechanism fails if there is no competition, or if rival companies choose not to compete on a particular feature. It fails when customers are unable to switch to competitors. And it fails when what companies do remains secret.

Unlike service providers like Google and Facebook, telecom companies are infrastructure that requires government involvement and regulation. The practical impossibility of consumers learning the extent of surveillance by their Internet service providers, combined with the difficulty of switching them, means that the decision about whether to be spied on should be with the consumer and not a telecom giant. That this new bill reverses that is both wrong and harmful."

This lack of competition didn't just magically happen. As in other sectors driven by legacy turf protectors, the same ISP lobbyists that just gutted the FCC's privacy rules have a long and proud history of dismantling competitive threats at every conceivable opportunity, then paying legislators to look the other way. That includes pushing for protectionist state laws preventing towns and cities from doing much of anything about it. It's not clear who these ISPs thought they were speaking to in these editorials, but it's certainly not to folks that have actually paid attention to their behavior over the last fifteen years.

The EFF, meanwhile, concisely calls these ISPs' sudden and breathless dedication to privacy nonsense:

"There is a lot to say about the nonsense they've produced here," said Ernesto Falcon, legislative counsel at EFF. "There is little reason to believe they will not start using personal data they've been legally barred from using and selling to bidders without our consent now. The law will soon be tilted in their favor to do it."

Gosh, who to believe? Actual experts on subjects like security or privacy, or one of the more dishonest and anti-competitive business sectors in American industry? All told, you can expect these ISPs to remain on their best behavior for a short while for appearances' sake (and because AT&T wants its Time Warner merger approved) -- but it's not going to be long before they rush to abuse the lack of oversight their campaign contributions just successfully created. Anybody believing otherwise simply hasn't been paying attention to the laundry list of idiotic ISP actions that drove the FCC to try and pass the now-dismantled rules in the first place.

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#Privacy #Net Neutrality #Communications #FCC #FTC #ATT #Comcast #Verizon #Lobbying #Corporatism #Politics @LibertyPod+ @Laissez-Faire Capitalism+ @Gadget Gurus+
Seth Martin
 Wed, 05 Apr 2017 10:07:40 -0500 
Techdirt.Techdirt. wrote the following post 2 months ago

Comcast Paid Civil Rights Groups To Support Killing Broadband Privacy Rules

For years, one of the greasier lobbying and PR tactics by the telecom industry has been the use of minority groups to parrot awful policy positions. Historically, such groups are happy to take financing from a company like Comcast, in exchange for repeating whatever talking point memos are thrust in their general direction, even if the policy being supported may dramatically hurt their constituents. This strategy has played a starring role in supporting anti-consumer mega-mergers, killing attempts to make the cable box market more competitive, and efforts to eliminate net neutrality.

The goal is to provide an artificial wave of "support" for bad policies, used to then justify bad policy votes. And despite this being something the press has highlighted for the better part of several decades, the practice continues to work wonders. Hell, pretending to serve minority communities while effectively undermining them with bad internet policy is part of the reason Comcast now calls top lobbyist David Cohen the company's Chief Diversity Officer (something the folks at Comcast hate when I point it out, by the way).

Last week, we noted how Congress voted to kill relatively modest but necessary FCC privacy protections. You'd be hard pressed to find a single, financially-objective group or person that supports such a move. Even Donald Trump's most obnoxious supporters were relatively disgusted by the vote. Yet The Intercept notes that groups like the League of United Latin American Citizens and the OCA (Asian Pacific American Advocates) breathlessly urged the FCC to kill the rules, arguing that snoopvertising and data collection would be a great boon to low income families:

"The League of United Latin American Citizens and OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, two self-described civil rights organizations, told the FCC that “many consumers, especially households with limited incomes, appreciate receiving relevant advertising that is keyed to their interests and provides them with discounts on the products and services they use."

Of course, folks like Senator Ted Cruz then used this entirely-farmed support to insist there were "strenuous objections from throughout the internet community" at the creation of the rules, which simply wasn't true. Most people understood that the rules were a direct response to some reckless and irresponsible privacy practices at major ISPs -- ranging from charging consumers more to keep their data private, or using customer credit data to provide even worse customer support than they usually do. Yes, what consumer (minority or otherwise) doesn't want to pay significantly more money for absolutely no coherent reason?

It took only a little bit of digging for The Intercept to highlight what the real motivation for this support of anti-consumer policies was:

"OCA has long relied on telecom industry cash. Verizon and Comcast are listed as business advisory council members to OCA, and provide funding along with “corporate guidance to the organization.” Last year, both companies sponsored the OCA annual gala.

AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Verizon serve as part of the LULAC “corporate alliance,” providing “advice and assistance” to the group. Comcast gave $240,000 to LULAC between 2004 and 2012.

When a reporter asks these groups why they're supporting internet policies that run in stark contrast to their constituents, you'll usually be met with either breathless indignance at the idea that these groups are being used as marionettes, or no comment whatsoever (which was the case in the Intercept's latest report). This kind of co-opting still somehow doesn't get much attention in the technology press or policy circles, so it continues to work wonders. And it will continue to work wonders as the administration shifts its gaze from gutting privacy protections to killing net neutrality.

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#Privacy #Net Neutrality #Communications #Comcast #FCC #Lobbying #LULAC #Politics @LibertyPod+ @Gadget Gurus+ @Laissez-Faire Capitalism+
Seth Martin
 Wed, 05 Apr 2017 10:19:14 -0500 
Yet this happens:
US internet providers pledge to not sell customer data after controversial rule change

The three major US Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Comcast Corp, Verizon Communications Inc, and AT&T Inc have pledged to protect the private data of US citizens in solidarity against the latest internet bill passed by Congress.
Seth Martin
 Sun, 12 Mar 2017 12:11:32 -0500 last edited: Sun, 12 Mar 2017 12:14:19 -0500  
Finally, if you could create an alternative open standard system that could do all the things that email can do, it would probably have the same problems. That’s why I don’t think it will happen.

Oh look, Hubzilla is "an alternative open standard system that could do all the things that email can do", and it doesn't have the same problems. Now how can Hubzilla's Zot protocol gain popularity?

Is there a replacement for email?

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David is fed up with spam, phishing and viruses, and thinks email is no longer fit for purpose. What could he use to replace it?


#email #Spam #Malware #Communications #Hubzilla #Zot #Decentralization @Gadget Gurus+ @LibertyPod+
Andrew Manning
 Sun, 12 Mar 2017 13:17:44 -0500 
Not a single mention of XMPP or any other open protocol that has been developed since email was invented 5000 years ago. Just Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger and friends. Sigh.

To their credit, the article did mention that
Email’s second huge advantage is that, unlike Facebook, nobody owns it.

but then they lost credibility by following it with this ignorant statement:
Finally, if you could create an alternative open standard system that could do all the things that email can do, it would probably have the same problems. That’s why I don’t think it will happen.
Letter Bomber
 Sun, 12 Mar 2017 13:27:34 -0500 
@Andrew Manning That's exactly what I was thinking, that the statement was ignorant. It shows that they believe that what Silicon Valley comes out with is all there is in the world, and that shows somebody who's unwilling to look elsewhere, cause there's stuff all over the place. But I don't expect any better from the Guardian, they're just the voice of the mass ignorant middle-class populace.
Seth Martin
 Fri, 27 Jan 2017 06:12:18 -0600 last edited: Fri, 27 Jan 2017 06:20:23 -0600  
Techdirt.Techdirt. wrote the following post 4 months ago

Legal Threats By Charles Harder & Shiva Ayyadurai Targeting More Speech

Let's say right upfront: if you are unaware, Shiva Ayyadurai is currently suing Techdirt for our posts concerning Ayyaduria's claims to have invented email. Ayyadurai's lawyer in this matter is Charles Harder, the lawyer who filed multiple lawsuits against Gawker, and is credited by many with forcing that company into bankruptcy and fire sale.

Now Harder, on behalf of Ayyadurai, has sent a demand letter to try to have social media comments posted in response to the lawsuit against us taken down. We are writing about this -- despite the lawsuit against us -- because we believe it is important and we do not intend to have our own speech chilled. This is also why we believe it is so important to have a federal anti-SLAPP law in place, because the chance to chill speech with threats or actual litigation is not a hypothetical problem. It is very, very real.

Harder's letter is to Diaspora, and it demands that certain posts by Roy Schestowitz be removed (which appears to have happened). Schestowitz is the guy behind the Techrights blog, which frequently covers issues related to things like free v. proprietary software and software patents. Harder's letter to Diaspora claims that Schestowitz's posts are defamatory, violate Diaspora's terms of service, and "constitute harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress."

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Harder's letter makes the questionable claim that Diaspora itself is liable for Schestowitz's statements. There is tremendous caselaw on Section 230 of the CDA holding that a website cannot be held liable for speech made by users, so it's odd that Harder would argue otherwise, stating that the posts "qualify under the law to establish liability against you."

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One of the key reasons Section 230 of the CDA exists is to protect the freedom of expression of users, so that websites aren't pressured via legal threats to take down speech over fear of liability. That's why it grants full immunity. It is strange for an attorney as established as Harder to either not know this, or to misrepresent this. Elsewhere in the letter, he references Massachusetts law as applying, so it's not as though he's suggesting that some other jurisdiction outside the US applies. So, since Section 230 clearly applies, why would Charles Harder tell Diaspora that it is liable for these statements?

Separately, Harder's letter concludes with the following statement:

This letter and its contents are confidential, protected by copyright law, and not authorized for publication or dissemination.

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We have seen similar statements on legal letters in the past and they have generally been considered meaningless, at best. On the question of confidentiality/authorization for publication, that's not how it works. The recipient of such a letter has no obligation to not disseminate it or to ask for authorization without any prior agreement along those lines. You can't magically declare something confidential and ban anyone from sharing it. Furthermore, this is especially true when dealing with legal threat letters. While many lawyers put such language into these letters to try to scare recipients (and avoid a Streisand Effect over the attempt to silence speech), they serve no purpose other than intimidation.

Separately, claims of copyright in takedown or cease & desist letters, while they do show up occasionally, are also generally considered to be overstatements of the law. First off, there are questions raised about whether or not general cease & desist threat letters have enough creativity to get any kind of copyright, but, more importantly, even if there were copyright on such a letter it would be a clear and obvious fair use case to be able to share them and distribute them publicly, as part of an effort to discuss how one has been threatened with questionable legal arguments.

Either way, we believe that this fits a pattern of using legal threats and litigation to silence criticism of public figures. In an era when speaking truth to power is so important, we believe such actions need to be given attention, and need to be called out. We also think they demonstrate why we need much stronger anti-SLAPP laws, at both the state and federal level to protect people's right to speak out about public issues. If you agree, please call your elected representatives and ask them to support strong anti-SLAPP protections, like those found in the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015.

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#Free Speech #Diaspora #Social Networking #Copyright #Defamation #Anti-SLAPP #Shiva Ayyadurai #Charles Harder #E-Mail @Gadget Guru+ @LibertyPod+
Gadget Gurus
 Wed, 25 Jan 2017 18:33:09 -0600 
Techdirt.Techdirt. wrote the following post 4 months ago

State Appeals Court Says Unlocking A Phone With A Fingerprint Doesn't Violate The Fifth Amendment

As was hinted heavily three years ago, you might be better off securing your phone with a passcode than your fingerprint. While a fingerprint is definitely unique and (theoretically...) a better way to keep thieves and snoopers from breaking into your phone, it's not much help when it comes to your Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

The Minnesota Appeals Court has ruled [PDF] that unlocking a phone with a fingerprint is no more "testimonial" than a blood draw, police lineup appearance, or even matching the description of a suspected criminal. (h/t Orin Kerr)
Diamond relies on In re Grand Jury Subpoena Duces Tecum, 670 F.3d 1335 (11th Cir. 2012), to support his argument that supplying his fingerprint was testimonial. In In re Grand Jury, the court reasoned that requiring the defendant to decrypt and produce the contents of a computer’s hard drive, when it was unknown whether any documents were even on the encrypted drive, “would be tantamount to testimony by [the defendant] of his knowledge of the existence and location of potentially incriminating files; of his possession, control, and access to the encrypted portions of the drives; and of his capability to decrypt the files.” Id. at 1346. The court concluded that such a requirement is analogous to requiring production of a combination and that such a production involves implied factual statements that could potentially incriminate. Id.

By being ordered to produce his fingerprint, however, Diamond was not required to disclose any knowledge he might have or to speak his guilt. See Doe, 487 U.S. at 211, 108 S. Ct. at 2348. The district court’s order is therefore distinguishable from requiring a defendant to decrypt a hard drive or produce a combination. See, e.g., In re Grand Jury, 670 F.3d at 1346; United States v. Kirschner, 823 F. Supp. 2d 665, 669 (E.D. Mich. 2010) (holding that requiring a defendant to provide computer password violates the Fifth Amendment). Those requirements involve a level of knowledge and mental capacity that is not present in ordering Diamond to place his fingerprint on his cellphone. Instead, the task that Diamond was compelled to perform—to provide his fingerprint—is no more testimonial than furnishing a blood sample, providing handwriting or voice exemplars, standing in a lineup, or wearing particular clothing.

Of course, it's what's contained in the now-unlocked device that might be incriminating, which is why Diamond pointed to In re Grand Jury as being analogous to the forced provision of a fingerprint. The court's rebuttal of this argument, however, doesn't make a lot of sense. It says the process that unlocked the device requires no knowledge or mental capacity -- which is certainly true -- but that the end result, despite being the same (the production of evidence against themselves) is somehow different because of the part of the body used to obtain access (finger v. brain).

In recounting the obtaining of the print, the court shows that some knowledge is imparted by this effort -- information not possessed by law enforcement or prosecutors.
Diamond also argues that he “was required to identify for the police which of his fingerprints would open the phone” and that this requirement compelled a testimonial communication. This argument, however, mischaracterizes the district court’s order. The district court’s February 11 order compelled Diamond to “provide a fingerprint or thumbprint as deemed necessary by the Chaska Police Department to unlock his seized cell phone.” At the April 3 contempt hearing, the district court referred to Diamond providing his “thumbprint.” The prosecutor noted that they were “not sure if it’s an index finger or a thumb.” The district court answered, “Take whatever samples you need.” Diamond then asked the detectives which finger they wanted, and they answered, “The one that unlocks it.”

This is something only Diamond would know, and by unlocking the phone, he would be demonstrating some form of control of the device as well as responsibility for its contents. So, it is still a testimonial act, even if it doesn't rise to the mental level of retaining a password or combination. (And, if so, would four-digit passcodes be less "testimonial" than a nine-digit alphanumeric password, if the bright line comes down to mental effort?)

Given the reasoning of the court, it almost appears as though Diamond may have succeeded in this constitutional challenge if he had chosen to do so at the point he was ordered to produce the correct finger.
It is clear that the district court permitted the state to take samples of all of Diamond’s fingerprints and thumbprints. The district court did not ask Diamond whether his prints would unlock the cellphone or which print would unlock it, nor did the district court compel Diamond to disclose that information. There is no indication that Diamond would have been asked to do more had none of his fingerprints unlocked the cellphone. Diamond himself asked which finger the detectives wanted when he was ready to comply with the order, and the detectives answered his question. Diamond did not object then, nor did he bring an additional motion to suppress the evidence based on the exchange that he initiated.

And so, in first decision of its kind for this Appeals Court, the precedent established is that fingerprints are less protective of defendants' Fifth Amendment rights than passwords.

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#Fifth Amendment #Liberty #Self-Incrimination @LibertyPod+
Seth Martin
 Tue, 24 Jan 2017 19:56:24 -0600 last edited: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 20:05:43 -0600  
DeeplinksDeeplinks wrote the following post 4 months ago

EFF To Patent Office: Supreme Court Limits On Abstract Patents Are a Good Thing

EFF has submitted comments to the Patent Office urging it not to support efforts to undermine the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. The Patent Office had called for public submissions regarding whether “legislative changes are desirable” in response to recent court decisions, including Alice. We explain that, far from harming the software industry, Alice has helped it thrive.

When the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Alice, it was a shock to a patent system that had been churning out software patents by the tens of thousands every year. Back in the 1990s, the Federal Circuit had opened the software patent floodgate with its ruling in State Street and In re Alappat. That decision held that any general purpose computer could be eligible for a patent so long as it is programmed to perform a particular function. In Alice, the Supreme Court substantially moderated that holding by ruling that a generic computer is not eligible for a patent simply because it is programed to implement an abstract idea.

Courts have applied Alice to throw out many of the worst software patents. Alice is particularly valuable because, in some cases, courts have applied it early in litigation thereby preventing patent trolls from using the high expense of litigation to pressure defendants into settlements. While we think that the Federal Circuit could do more to diligently apply Alice, it has at least been a step forward.

As the Alice case made its way to the Supreme Court, defenders of software patents predicted disaster would befall the software industry if the courts invalidated the patent. For example, Judge Moore of the Federal Circuit suggested that a ruling for the defendant “would decimate the electronics and software industries.” This prediction turned out be entirely inaccurate.

In our comments, we explain that the software industry has thrived in the wake of Alice. For example, while R&D spending on software and Internet development went up an impressive 16.5% in the 12 months prior to the Alice decision, it increased by an even more dramatic 27% in the year following Alice. Similarly, employment growth for software developers remains very strong, as anyone who has tried to rent an apartment in the Bay Area can attest.

We also express concern that the Patent Office’s guidance puts the thumb on the scale in favor of patent eligibility. For example, the Patent Office’s call for comments asked how it can make certain decisions better known to examiners. But it focused only on decisions finding patent claims eligible. During the same period, even more decisions were issued by the Federal Circuit finding software-related claims ineligible, but those decisions were left off the list.

Some commentators have suggested that the Patent Office takes an “intentionally narrow” view of Alice. But it is not the Patent Office’s job to narrow Supreme Court holdings, its job is to apply them. Ultimately, the patent system does not exist to create jobs for patent prosecutors, examiners, or litigators. It exists for the constitutional purpose of “promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” With no evidence that Alice is harming software development, the Patent Office should not focus on pushing more patenting on the industry.

Many other non-profits and companies submitted comments in favor of the changes brought by the Alice decision. These include comments from Public Knowledge, Engine, and Mozilla. We hope the Patent Office listens to this feedback from outside the patent world before making any legislative recommendations.

Public comment periods are an important check on concentrated interests pushing regulations that hurt the public interest. EFF regularly submits comments to the Patent Office where rules are proposed that would harm the public. For example, EFF and Public Knowledge recently submitted comments to the Patent Office regarding applicants' duties of disclosure. This is the duty to tell the Patent Office about material (such as existing inventions) relevant to whether the application is patentable. The Patent Office has proposed a new rule that would require patent applicants to submit material only if it the material would actually lead to a rejection of a pending claim. That is, the Patent Office proposed adopting the standard set out in a case called Therasense, which was a decision from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit regarding the standards for finding a patent invalid for inequitable conduct. The Patent Office justified its proposed change as being simpler for applicants and would lessen the incentives to submit only marginally relevant material.

In our comments, we urged the Patent Office to maintain its current standards. We explain that the change would lead to no reduction in a charge of inequitable conduct. In addition, we suggested that a better incentive to reducing the amount of marginally relevant material would be if the Patent Office more frequently enforce procedures requiring patent applicants to explain the relevance of materials submitted to the office.

Related Cases:

Abstract Patent Litigation

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#EFF #Patents #Patent Trolls #Innovation @Gadget Guru+ @LibertyPod+
Laissez-Faire Capitalism
 Tue, 24 Jan 2017 19:06:08 -0600 last edited: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 19:15:07 -0600  
Ronald BaileyRonald Bailey wrote the following post 4 months ago

Trump Makes Government Leaks Great Again!

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First, let's acknowledge the Obama administration was obsessive about controlling the flow of information from the executive branch. The "most transparent administration in history" simply wasn't. In 2015, 40 journalism and government accountability organizations under the auspices of the Society of Professional Journalists sent an open letter to President Obama complaining about the lack of transparency. The letter listed among other techniques used by the administration to keep the media tamed ...
... prohibiting staff from communicating with journalists unless they maneuver through public affairs offices or through political appointees; refusing to allow reporters to speak to staff at all, or delaying interviews past the point they would be useful; monitoring interviews; and speaking only on the condition that the official not be identified even when he or she has title of spokesperson. ...

The public has a right to be alarmed by these constraints–essentially forms of censorship–that have surged at all levels of government in the past few decades. Surveys of journalists and public information officers (PIOs) demonstrate that the restraints have become pervasive across the country; that some PIOs admit to blocking certain reporters when they don't like what is written; and that most Washington reporters say the public is not getting the information it needs because of constraints. An SPJ survey released in April confirmed that science writers frequently run into these barriers.

President Donald Trump is evidently taking a lesson out of the Obama administration's media squelching playbook, at least initially. Specifically, the Environmental Protection Agency has reportedly received memordanda from the White House ordering what has been described a "temporary media blackout." Every incoming administration needs time to get organized and, of course, seeks to control the flow of information from executive agencies so as to put its policies in the best light. In the short run, that's annoying to those who want to know how their government is performing at any given time, but is to be expected.

The Obama administration was, for the most part, able to keep unflattering leaks to a minimum largely because the bulk of the federal workforce was simpatico with its policies. This is unlikely to be the case with the Trump administration. If Trump tries to keep federal workers muzzled past a short transition period, I predict that he will succeed brilliantly in making government leaks great again! Maybe some minor portion of national security information needs to be kept secret, but it's hard to see why any information, data, studies, and reports that the EPA and other agencies produce should be kept from the public and press.


#Transparency #Security #Journalism @LibertyPod+
Seth Martin
 Sat, 21 Jan 2017 11:32:03 -0600 last edited: Sat, 21 Jan 2017 11:41:11 -0600  
The Internet Health Report

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Welcome to Mozilla’s new open source initiative to document and explain what’s happening to the health of the Internet. Combining research from multiple sources, we collect data on five key topics and offer a brief overview of each.


#Decentralization #Privacy #Internet #Security #Cybersecurity #Mozilla @LibertyPod+ @Gadget Guru+
Seth Martin
 Sat, 14 Jan 2017 09:25:13 -0600 last edited: Sat, 14 Jan 2017 09:55:00 -0600  
Since government is creating an environment where only some entities can afford to play, government must also protect the market from their abuse of power.

MotherboardMotherboard wrote the following post 4 months ago

In Final Speech, FCC Chief Tom Wheeler Warns GOP Not to Kill Net Neutrality

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered an impassioned defense of US net neutrality protections on Friday, one week before Republicans who have vowed to roll back the policy are set to take control of the agency.

In his final public speech as the nation’s top telecom regulator, Wheeler warned that Republican efforts to weaken FCC rules ensuring that all internet content is treated equally will harm consumers, stifle online innovation, and threaten broadband industry competition.

“The open internet is the law of the land,” Wheeler declared during a speech at the DC offices of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “Tampering with the rules means taking away protections consumers and the online world enjoy today.”

Open internet advocates say strong net neutrality safeguards are needed to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon from creating online fast lanes for their own content or discriminating against rival services. The telecom giants, and their Republican allies in Congress, accuse the FCC of overstepping its authority and shackling their business models.

Wheeler’s departure from the FCC on January 20, President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration day, will leave the agency in the hands of Republican officials who have made no secret of their intention to dismantle the FCC’s policy. That would be a grave mistake, Wheeler said.

“To take those protections away at the request of a handful of ISPs threatens any innovation that requires connectedness and with it the productivity gains, job creation, and international competitiveness required for America’s economic growth,” Wheeler said. "It is time to keep moving forward. This is not the time to retreat and take things away.”
“Vigilance to protect that which Americans now enjoy must be our watchword.”

The FCC’s policy safeguarding net neutrality is the centerpiece of an ambitious pro-consumer agenda advanced by Wheeler over the last three years. Open internet advocates say that without net neutrality, hugely popular online video and communications services like Netflix and Skype could have been snuffed out by ISPs in favor of their own rival offerings.

“Those who build and operate networks have both the incentive and the ability to use the power of the network to benefit themselves even if doing so harms their own customers and the greater public interest,” Wheeler said. “Access to the network is what the new economy is built on, and it must not be taken away.”


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's Final Public Address
by The Aspen Institute on YouTube

Unfortunately for open internet advocates, the prospects for the FCC’s net neutrality policy are bleak under Trump’s administration. The president-elect’s FCC transition team is led by right-wing ideologues who are expected to recommend a new anti-net neutrality chairman to replace Wheeler. And Trump himself has taken to Twitter to disparage the FCC’s policy.

In his speech, Wheeler warned Republicans soon to be in control of the FCC that reversing the agency's net neutrality policy is “not a slam dunk” because of the “high hurdle, imposed by the Administrative Procedure Act, of a fact-based showing that so much has changed in just two short years that a reversal is justified.”

Meanwhile, in Congress, Republicans are already scheming to kneecap the FCC’s policy. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican who was recently tapped by the GOP to be the new chairman of the House telecom subcommittee, has described net neutrality as a “socialistic” Obama plot to take over the internet.

Blackburn, who has received mountains of campaign cash from the telecom industry since first being elected in 2002, has been trying to kill net neutrality for years. In the coming months, she will finally get her chance, possibly by working with other lawmakers to pass new legislation that claims to protect net neutrality, while actually gutting the FCC’s policy.

Outgoing FCC Chairman Wheeler, who has written books about the Civil War, concluded his remarks by quoting from Abraham Lincoln’s famous first inaugural address: “While the people retain their virtue, and vigilance, no administration … can very seriously injure the government, in the short space of four years.”

“The vigilance Lincoln spoke of means we must be alert to name-only, so-called net neutrality policies that actually retreat from the protections that exist today,” Wheeler said. “Vigilance to protect that which Americans now enjoy must be our watchword.”


#Net Neutrality #Internet #FCC #Communications #Politics @Gadget Guru+ @LibertyPod+ @Laissez-Faire Capitalism+
Laissez-Faire Capitalism
 Sat, 14 Jan 2017 08:11:43 -0600 last edited: Sat, 14 Jan 2017 08:20:54 -0600  
The InterceptThe Intercept wrote the following post 4 months ago

Cory Booker Joins Senate Republicans to Kill Measure to Import Cheaper Medicine From Canada

Bernie Sanders introduced a very simple symbolic amendment Wednesday night, urging the federal government to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, where they are considerably cheaper. Such unrestricted drug importation is currently prohibited by law.

The policy has widespread support among Americans: one Kaiser poll taken in 2015 found that 72 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing for importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.

The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46, with two senators not voting. Unusually, the vote was not purely along party lines: 13 Republicans joined Sanders and a majority of Democrats in supporting the amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.

One of those Democrats was New Jersey’s Cory Booker, who is considered a rising star in the party and a possible 2020 presidential contender.

In a statement to the media after the vote, Booker’s office said he supports the importation of prescription drugs but that “any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards. I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test.”

This argument is the same one offered by the pharmaceutical industry. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which lobbies against importation, maintains that it opposes importation because “foreign governments will not ensure that prescription drugs entering the U.S. from abroad are safe and effective.”

The safety excuse has long been a refuge for policymakers who don’t want to assist Americans struggling with prescription drug costs. Bills to legalize importation passed in 2000 and 2007, but expired after the Clinton and Bush administrations refused to certify that it would be safe. The Obama administration also cited safety concerns when opposing an importation measure in the Affordable Care Act.

A second amendment Wednesday, authored by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, would have allowed importation pending a safety certification, just like the previous laws passed on the subject. It also failed. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., used that amendment to claim on Twitter that he voted “to lower drug prices through importation from Canada,” and Booker referred to the Wyden amendment in his statement as well. This is a well-worn tactic from opponents of importation to mislead their constituents, as they know such certification will never occur.

The safety excuse is mostly a chimera, as most of the drugs that would be imported from Canada were originally manufactured in the United States; they’re just cheaper there, because the Canadian government uses a review board and price negotiation to make drugs more affordable.

“My first response to that is show me the dead Canadians. Where are the dead Canadians?” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, once asked during his own push to allow for importation.

Democrats blocked importation from becoming part of the Affordable Care Act in 2009, with over 30 votes in opposition, because they feared it would have pushed the pharmaceutical industry to oppose the underlying legislation. They also voted in large numbers to oppose importation as part of an FDA bill in 2012.

Booker and some of his Democratic colleagues who opposed the Sanders amendment are longtime friends of the drug industry. As MapLight data shows, Booker has received more pharmaceutical manufacturing cash over the past six years than any other Democratic senator: $267,338. In addition, significant numbers of pharmaceutical and biotech firms reside in Booker’s home state of New Jersey. Other Democrats receiving six-figure donations from the industry, like Casey, Patty Murray, and Michael Bennet, opposed the amendment.

Top photo: Booker at a Senate Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee meeting on July 30, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

The post Cory Booker Joins Senate Republicans to Kill Measure to Import Cheaper Medicine From Canada appeared first on The Intercept.


#Prohibition #Crony Capitalism #Corporatism #Healthcare #Health #Drugs #Importation #Politics @LibertyPod+
Anarcho-Vegans
 Fri, 13 Jan 2017 21:12:56 -0600 last edited: Sun, 22 Jan 2017 11:28:50 -0600  
Massive scientific report on marijuana confirms medical benefits

Image/photo (credit: Getty | LARS HAGBERG)

In a new 400-page analysis that blows through the current state of scientific knowledge on the health risks and benefits of marijuana, one of the strongest conclusions is that it can effectively treat chronic pain in some patients.

The sweeping report, released Thursday by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, covered more than 10,000 scientific studies and came to nearly 100 other conclusions. Those mostly highlight unanswered questions and insufficient research related to health effects of marijuana, as well as several risks. However, the firm verification that marijuana does have legitimate medical uses—supported by high-quality scientific studies—is a significant takeaway in light of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision in August to maintain marijuana’s listing as a Schedule I drug. That is, a drug that has no medical use.

The new report also strongly concludes that the Schedule I listing creates significant administrative barriers for researchers wishing to conduct health research on marijuana and its components—an issue Ars has previously reported on.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs


#Marijuana #Medicine #Health #Drugs #Cannabis #Cannabinoids #War-on-Drugs @LibertyPod+
Anarcho-Vegans
 Mon, 02 Jan 2017 09:59:09 -0600 last edited: Mon, 02 Jan 2017 10:08:22 -0600  
Laissez-Faire Capitalism
 Sun, 01 Jan 2017 11:32:49 -0600 last edited: Sun, 01 Jan 2017 11:41:32 -0600  
Zero HedgeZero Hedge wrote the following post 5 months ago

5 Blood-Boiling Cases Of Government Overreach

Submitted by Kelly Wright via The Foundation for Economic Education,

Every year the number of regulations, dictates, rules, decrees, guidelines, statutes, laws, and bylaws in the United States grows by leaps and bounds. Just look at the growth in the number of final rules contained in the Federal Register:

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Government Overreach
Now it seems we can’t go a week without hearing a new story about someone being punished, with fines or even jail time, for activities that would be encouraged in a free society. I’ve taken the liberty (pun intended) of compiling some of the more egregious examples of this trend for your reading pleasure (or displeasure).

1. Single mom faces possible jail time for selling $12 worth of ceviche to an undercover police officer.

Mariza Ruelas had her day in court in early November. Her crime? She sold a $12 plate of ceviche, an authentic Mexican dish, to an undercover cop on Facebook.

I know what you’re thinking: Why are police setting up stings to catch people selling food to willing customers over Facebook? Don’t they have actual crimes to investigate — like ones with actual victims? I wish I knew the answers to those questions.

2. Federal prosecutors threaten Aaron Swartz with a life-crushing sentence for downloading academic articles.

On January 11th 2013, Aaron Swartz ended his own life, concluding one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in contemporary history.

In the months leading up to his suicide, Swartz had been embroiled in a legal battle with the federal government after prosecutors charged Swartz under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. His crime? Downloading thousands of academic articles from the JSTOR database.

The CFAA is a particularly cruel piece of legislation, as it carries severe mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, resulting in Swartz facing up to 35 years in prison for a nonviolent crime.

Many legal observers at the time pointed out that had Swartz robbed a bank, aided al-Qaeda, or produced child pornography he would have faced a more lenient sentence.

Swartz’s story was detailed in great depth in the documentary The Internet’s Own BoyImage/photo. The documentary was released under the Creative Commons — a nonprofit initiative Aaron Swartz himself was an early architect of — so you can watch it for free on YouTube.


THE INTERNET'S OWN BOY | Official Trailer | FilmBuff
by FilmBuff Movies on YouTube

3. Government claims ownership of all water, jails Oregon man for 30 days for collecting rainwater on his own property.

Way back in 2012 the libertarian blogosphere was abuzz over an egregious case of local government tyranny out of Oregon. Gary Harrington was sentenced to spend 30 days in jail for the crime of collecting rainwater using three reservoirs (that’s newspeak for “ponds”) on his property.

Oregon law states that all water is a public resource, to be owned communally by the collective population of Oregon, and as such any attempts to obtain or store water must first begin with applying for the proper permits to do so. Yes, really.

One of the reservoirs on his property had been there for 37 years, Harrington said. To add insult to injury, Harrington’s applications for permits were initially approved by the state’s Water Resource Department, but were rescinded after a state court reversed their decision.

As a result of this 1920s-era law, Harrington was ordered to turn himself in to the county jail to serve his 30-day sentence.

4. Maryland church ordered to evict homeless people from its property or pay a $12,000 fine.

No good deed goes unpunished in the Land of the Free.No good deed goes unpunished in the Land of the FreeTM. In late 2016, Reverend Katie Grover was met with a $12,000 citation attached to the door of the Patapsco United Methodist Church in Dundalk, Maryland. The alleged crime was allowing several homeless people to sleep on the church’s property in violation of the county regulation prohibiting “non-permitted rooming and boarding.”

The church wasn’t even letting the homeless sleep indoors, rather they were just allowing a few homeless people to sleep on some of the benches located in the church’s yard.

5. San Antonio chef fined $2,000 for feeding homeless people.

In early 2015, the chef and founder of the not-for-profit food truck Chow Train, Joan Cheever, was cited by police officers for the outrageous crime of serving hot meals to the city’s homeless population.

The citation, which she received for transporting the food in a different vehicle than her licensed food truck, carries with it a fine totaling $2,000.

As is par for the course in these sorts of cases, there isn’t an observable wronged party. The only apparent “crime” here is the violation, unwitting or otherwise, of an arbitrary government dictate. In this case in particular, no one called the police requesting assistance. Cheever was doing what she had done for more than 10 years, except this time her charity stepped outside of the parameters set forth by an unelected bureaucrat at the city’s health department.

Parting Words
These cases brought to light a troubling trend unfolding in the US that couldn’t be summarized better than by the indispensable words of Ayn Rand, writing in Atlas Shrugged,
When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion — when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing — when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors — when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you — when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice — you may know that your society is doomed.

Hopefully the tendency to criminalize mundane activities or even charitable giving itself can be arrested before anyone else finds themselves on the business end of the growing regulatory state.

Image/photo

Image/photo


#Government #Overreach #Big Government @LibertyPod+
Seth Martin
 Thu, 29 Dec 2016 22:26:57 -0600 last edited: Thu, 29 Dec 2016 22:35:47 -0600  
DeeplinksDeeplinks wrote the following post 5 months ago

Secure Messaging Takes Some Steps Forward, Some Steps Back: 2016 In Review

This year has been full of developments in messaging platforms that employ encryption to protect users. 2016 saw an increase in the level of security for some major messaging services, bringing end-to-end encryption to over a billion people. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen major platforms making poor decisions for users and potentially undermining the strong cryptography built into their apps.

WhatsApp makes big improvements, but concerning privacy changes
In late March, the Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption for its over 1 billion monthly active users.  The enormous significance of rolling out strong encryption to such a large user-base was combined with the fact that underlying Whatsapp’s new feature was the Signal Protocol, a well-regarded and independently reviewed encryption protocol. WhatsApp was not only protecting users’ chats, but also doing so with one of the best end-to-end encrypted messaging protocols out there. At the time, we praised WhatsApp and created a guide for both iOS and Android on how you could protect your communications using it.

In August, however, we were alarmed to see WhatsApp establish data-sharing practices that signaled a shift in its attitude toward user privacy. In its first privacy policy change since 2012, WhatsApp laid the groundwork for expanded data-sharing with its parent company, Facebook. This change allows Facebook access to several pieces of users’ WhatsApp information, including WhatsApp phone number, contact list, and usage data (e.g. when a user last used WhatsApp, what device it was used it on, and what OS it was run on). This new data-sharing compounded our previous concerns about some of WhatsApp’s non-privacy-friendly default settings.

Signal takes steps forward
Meanwhile, the well-regarded end-to-end encryption app Signal, for which the Signal Protocol was created, has grown its user-base and introduced new features.  Available for iOS and Android (as well as desktop if you have either of the previous two), Signal recently introduced disappearing messages to its platform.  With this, users can be assured that after a chosen amount of time, messages will be deleted from both their own and their contact’s devices.

Signal also recently changed the way users verify their communications, introducing the concept of “safety numbers” to authenticate conversations and verify the long-lived keys of contacts in a more streamlined way.

Mixed-mode messaging
2016  reminded us that it’s not as black-and-white as secure messaging apps vs. not-secure ones. This year we saw several existing players in the messaging space add end-to-end encrypted options to their platforms. Facebook Messenger added “secret” messaging, and Google released Allo Messenger with “incognito” mode. These end-to-end encrypted options co-exist on the apps with a default option that is only encrypted in transit.

Unfortunately, this “mixed mode” design may do more harm than good by teaching users the wrong lessons about encryption. Branding end-to-end encryption as “secret,” “incognito,” or “private” may encourage users to use end-to-end encryption only when they are doing something shady or embarrassing. And if end-to-end encryption is a feature that you only use when you want to hide or protect something, then the simple act of using it functions as a red flag for valuable, sensitive information. Instead, encryption should be an automatic, straightforward, easy-to-use status quo to protect all communications.

Further, mixing end-to-end encrypted modes with less sensitive defaults has been demonstrated to result in users making mistakes and inadvertently sending sensitive messages without end-to-end encryption.

In contrast, the end-to-end encrypted “letter sealing” that LINE expanded this year is enabled by default. Since first introducing it for 1-on-1 chats in 2015, LINE has made end-to-end encryption the default and progressively expanded the feature to group chats and 1-on-1 calls. Users can still send messages on LINE without end-to-end encryption by changing security settings, but the company recommends leaving the default “letter sealing” enabled at all times. This kind of default design makes it easier for users to communicate with encryption from the get-go, and much more difficult for them to make dangerous mistakes.

The dangers of unsecure messaging
In stark contrast to the above-mentioned secure messaging apps, a November report from Citizen Lab exposes China’s WeChat messenger’s practice of performing selective censorship on its over 806 million monthly active users.  When a user registers with a Chinese phone number, WeChat will censor content critical of the regime no matter where that user is. The censorship effectively “follows them around,” even if the user switches to an international phone number or leaves China to travel abroad. Effectively, WeChat users may be under the control of China’s censorship regime no matter where they go.

Compared to the secure messaging practices EFF advocates for, WeChat represents the other end of the messaging spectrum, employing algorithms to control and limit access rather than using privacy-enhancing technologies to allow communication. This is an urgent reminder of how users can be put in danger when their communications are available to platform providers and governments, and why it is so important to continue promoting privacy-enhancing technologies and secure messaging.

This article is part of our Year In Review series. Read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2016.

Like what you're reading? Support digital freedom defense today!
Image/photo

Share this: Image/photo Image/photo Image/photo Image/photo Join EFF


#Encryption #Privacy #Communications #Messaging #Security #WhatsApp #Signal #LINE #Allo #incognito  
@Gadget Guru+ @LibertyPod+
Mike Macgirvin
 Mon, 02 Jan 2017 00:40:46 -0600 last edited: Mon, 02 Jan 2017 00:49:58 -0600  
I tend to disagree about mixed mode messaging. We need a range of communication tools, from hush-hush ultra top secret to public and open. Both ends of the spectrum have problems. That's why you need privacy.
Seth Martin
 Mon, 02 Jan 2017 10:45:44 -0600 last edited: Mon, 02 Jan 2017 10:46:52 -0600  
I agree with you, Mike. I just think it's important for these messaging apps to have encryption on by default to curb authorities targeting those that use the feature selectively.
Gadget Gurus
 Tue, 27 Dec 2016 21:45:07 -0600 
That happened a little faster than expected.

RT - Daily newsRT - Daily news wrote the following post 5 months ago

The walls have ears: Warrant granted for Amazon Echo recordings

Image/photo
A murder in Arkansas may change the way people behave around smart devices. A warrant has been issued for an Amazon Echo, revealing that Amazon may retain recordings on a server for law enforcement investigations.
Read Full Article at RT.com


#Privacy @LibertyPod+
Gadget Gurus
 Wed, 28 Dec 2016 18:12:20 -0600 last edited: Wed, 28 Dec 2016 18:21:19 -0600  
Amazon denies police Echo data sought in murder case warrant

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Alexa, voice of Amazon’s Echo, not only always “listens” but also retains the right to remain silent. Amazon reportedly won’t be handing over its recordings to the Bentonville Police Department after a warrant was issued in relation to a murder.
Laissez-Faire Capitalism
 Tue, 20 Dec 2016 17:02:43 -0600 last edited: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 17:13:15 -0600  
Scott ShackfordScott Shackford wrote the following post 5 months ago

Want to Stop Asset Forfeiture Abuse? Teach Americans That It Happens.

Image/photo
Americans really, really don't like it when police seize citizens' property and keep it for themselves, especially when the authorities have not proven guilt.

That's the latest data from a new poll from the Cato Institute (and YouGov) examining attitudes about police. Cato notes that a full 84 percent of Americans oppose civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture is when police seize property and assets from people suspected of crimes and then keep it for themselves. Note the use of "suspected" not "convicted." Police do not have to convict suspects of crimes to use civil asset forfeiture. In many cases, they don't even have to charge them.

A bipartisan justice push has prompted reforms to regulations in several states (Ohio is the most recent). But despite the fact that Americans significantly oppose the practice, it continues in many places and is authorized and encouraged by the Department of Justice as well.

The latest opposition numbers match almost perfectly numbers from last spring taken from polls in Florida (84 percent) and Utah (83 percent).

There's more useful news for those who know and object to the practice. Even when permitting forfeiture, the majority of people who participated in the survey of 2,000 said they don't want local law enforcement agencies to have control over the assets they seize. Only 24 percent support local agencies keeping it for themselves. The rest either wanted the revenue to go into the state's general fund (48 percent) or in a state-controlled law enforcement fund (28 percent).

Those numbers matter because it indicates that Americans grasp the corrupt incentives that come from allowing police to keep what they seize. Forfeited money and property has been used by police departments to pad budgets, pay overtime, and when law enforcement agencies grow dependent on this money, it encourages the abuse we've seen all across the country.

That asset forfeiture continues at all given its unpopularity among Americans is evidence of how much power law enforcement and prosecutors have over state legislatures. The last couple years have seen some important reforms in New Mexico, Florida, California, Ohio, and elsewhere. But we've also seen efforts for reform get gutted by those who profit off the abusive system (as happened in October in Pennsylvania). Pushes for reforms will continue in the new year. Hopefully there will be some more wins. Teaching Americans what asset forfeiture actually is and how it works would definitely help.

Read more about the poll results at Cato here.


@LibertyPod+
Anarcho-Vegans
 Sat, 17 Dec 2016 12:57:18 -0600 last edited: Sat, 14 Jan 2017 06:44:11 -0600  
If the reason really is "for more appropriate accounting of such materials consistent with [UN] treaty provisions", then the U.S.A. needs to leave the UN.

CBD hemp oil named a Schedule I drug by DEA

Image/photo

A cannabidiol hemp oil used by some children with seizures has been officially named a Schedule I drug by the DEA.


#Cannabis #Cannabinoids #Cannabidiol #Hemp #CBD #DEA #Drugs #Supplements #Marihuana #Marihuana Extract #Marijuana #War-on-Drugs @LibertyPod+
skanda42@joindiaspora.com
Sat, 07 Jan 2017 08:15:17 -0600 from Diaspora
Elke Maria
Sat, 07 Jan 2017 19:24:44 -0600 from Diaspora
That's just crazy!
Anarcho-Vegans
 Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:54:54 -0600 last edited: Sun, 22 Jan 2017 11:27:20 -0600  
A little reminder of something good to know.

20 Medical Studies That Show Cannabis Can Potentially Cure Cancer

Image/photo

The health benefits of cannabis are vast, with multiple medical and scientific studies to confirm them.


#Cannabis #Marijuana #Cancer #Health #Medicine @LibertyPod+
Seth Martin
 Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:15:45 -0600 last edited: Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:23:46 -0600  
I had serious doubts that anything good would come from the election of Donald Trump but here it is!

DeeplinksDeeplinks wrote the following post 6 months ago

TPP: A Post-Mortem

The death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that EFF called last week has since been confirmed by White House officials. This marks the end of a long-running campaign against the secretive agreement that EFF began back in 2012.

Make no mistake; although the proximate cause of the TPP's demise was the U.S. Presidential election result, the TPP faced long odds in Congress even if the election had gone the other way. This in turn was due to broad opposition to the agreement from many sectors of society across the political divide, including from members of the digital rights community. So as we survey the fallout from the TPP's demise, EFF and its supporters are entitled to feel proud of the part we played.

Implementation In Other TPP Countries
But as we mentioned when breaking news of the death of the TPP, this doesn't mean that the other TPP countries are out of danger yet. In fact only today New Zealand's Parliament passed the implementing legislation required to ratify the TPP, including legislation that would extend the copyright term in New Zealand from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author.

The most dispiriting thing about this is that New Zealand's lawmakers were not ignorant of the fact that they were doing this unilaterally and with no purpose. They knew it, and they did it anyway. This passage from the official transcript of the third reading speech from Labour party member Rino Tirikatene reflects our own frustration with the process:
We are wasting the House's time. I do not know where the National Government has been for the past 24 hours, but there has been an election in the United States, and there is a new President-Elect, Trump, and he has outlined that in his first 100 days, he is withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement—a complete withdrawal. I do not know why we are here in some sort of deluded sense that by passing this legislation, the TPP is miraculously going to come into force, because it will not. It is dead—over.

The silver lining in this is that the amendments introduced by the implementation Bill will take effect only from the date that TPP enters into force for New Zealand. If that never happens, then the legislation will never take effect.

Japan, too, has moved closer to ratifying the TPP since we last wrote on the subject. Its ratification bill passed the lower house already, and will automatically take effect on December 9 if the upper house does not act on the bill sooner. Unlike in New Zealand, many of the changes made to Japanese law, including the copyright term extension, are not conditional on the TPP taking effect.

This places Japan at an even higher risk than New Zealand of suffering self-inflicted damage from the TPP that it will never offset through increased U.S. market access. Japan's Aozora Bunko (literally Blue Sky Library, a repository of public domain works) is one national institution that will be particularly hard hit.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that his government's quixotic commitment to the implementation of the TPP would “show to the world our ability to produce an outcome”, and is even pushing other countries to hasten their own implementation efforts. It may be worth noting that Japan is also the only country that ever ratified the failed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

The other country that is closest to ratifying and implementing the TPP, Malaysia, has today released a press statement [PDF] that acknowledges that the TPP has failed, yet does not categorically rule out the continuation of its own progress towards implementing the TPP's mandates through domestic legislation. Vietnam and Australia are in a similar position.

These countries, along with Brunei, Mexico, Singapore, Peru and Chile, ought to accept reality and provide their citizens with some certainty by formally shelving their implementation plans. If they see some symbolic value in continuing with their implementation, then at the very least they should do as New Zealand has done and make this conditional upon the existing TPP agreement coming into effect.

Implications for Other Trade Agreements
Instead of doing this, the remaining TPP countries now led by Mexico and Japan will be using this week's APEC meeting in Lima, Peru to discuss the idea of concluding a TPP agreement without the United States. Since U.S. involvement provided much of the value of the agreement, and the basis for many of the tradeoffs made by the other parties, it is difficult to make sense of this proposal without a significant renegotiation of the text.

In parallel, China is promoting the idea of expanding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) into a broader Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), covering all 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group.

It is difficult to assess what this would mean for digital rights, but we can't see it being good. The RCEP in its present form does contain some provisions on copyright, which are for the most part not as bad as those in the TPP, but this may change before the agreement is done. Since the process of negotiation of RCEP is every bit as closed and opaque as the TPP, we may not find out about how users' rights are being traded away until it is too late.

As for future trade agreements that do include the United States, the next U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated his intention to place more emphasis on concluding bilateral rather than multilateral agreements, as well as on the enforcement of existing agreements. We are unsure of the implications of this for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), but they don't look good for its backers.

The problem with a renewed focus on bilateral negotiations is that a single country in negotiation with the United States is far more likely to accept unbalanced copyright demands than it would be if it had the support of ten other countries, as countries did under the TPP. For example, previous bilateral U.S. free trade agreements have required trading partners to extend copyright protection to temporary copies in computer memory; a poison pill for innovators that the TPP countries rightly rejected.

Thus there is much uncertainty in the future around digital trade agreements, and EFF doesn't yet claim to have all the answers. But we can be certain about at least two things: that the TPP will not come into force in its present form, and that in consequence there is no rational reason for any of the countries that negotiated it to change their laws to conform with the agreement.

If you come from Japan, it is especially important for you to get involved with local activists who have the best chance of turning the government back from its misguided mission to implement this doomed agreement. If you come from Australia, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, or Vietnam, then you can also make a difference by writing to your local newspaper about why TPP implementation is such a bad idea. Here are some links to get you started:Share this: Image/photo Image/photo Image/photo Image/photo Join EFF


#TPP #Trans-Pacific Partnership #Trade #Economics #Politics @LibertyPod+ @Laissez-Faire Capitalism+
Tue, 15 Nov 2016 21:58:34 -0600 last edited: Tue, 15 Nov 2016 22:06:57 -0600  from Diaspora
This one is Huge.

NOT entering World War III is also huge.
Mike Macgirvin
 Tue, 15 Nov 2016 22:55:14 -0600 last edited: Tue, 15 Nov 2016 23:03:33 -0600  
A bit late for that.